Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: June 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

How to Make Sauerkraut

Today I’m going to show you how to make your own old-fashioned, raw, lacto-fermented sauerkraut. The first time I made sauerkraut, I was sure I was doing something wrong because it was so easy!


Cabbage – red or green (or a combo), organic

Sea salt – See my salting chart below, plus you may need more to mix up extra brine. (Any non-iodized salt will do, but unrefined sea salt is better for your body.)


Here’s my salting chart. These are just guidelines — if you want, you can add a little more salt in the summer and a little less in the winter.

10 tsp salt per 5 lbs vegetables

5 tsp salt per 2 ½ lbs vegetables

2 tsp salt per 1 lb vegetables

1 tsp salt per ½ lb vegetables

½ tsp salt per ¼ lb vegetables

Cabbage becoming sauerkraut. (Little bits of cabbage clinging to the side of the jar --like in the picture-- should be scraped down into the brine, otherwise they'll get moldy.)

Chop, shred, or grate your cabbage — coarse or fine, however you like it. Sprinkle the salt onto the cabbage and mix it up. I let mine sit on the counter for several hours or overnight (this step is in place of pounding) so that the salt can begin to draw water out of the cabbage. The water contains nutrients, and these nutrients then become the substrate for the growth of the lactic acid bacteria which is what turns your cabbage into kraut. (Steinkraus, Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods, p.120.)

After the cabbage is wilted and some water has been drawn out, pack the cabbage WITH its water into a glass jar. You really want to pack it in there (use your fist or any kitchen tool), because this will help squeeze more water out. You can also use a specially-made ceramic sauerkraut crock, or a glass or ceramic bowl (anything except metal, since salt and acid can react with metal).

Keep your cabbage submerged under the brine by placing a smaller plate on top and weighing it down with something heavy (a jug of water, a boiled rock, etc.). Or, nest a smaller jar of water inside your larger glass jar. Or, wedge a whole cabbage leaf into the jar to keep everything submerged.

Sauerkraut fermenting in a ceramic bowl, weighed down with a plate & a water-filled bowl.

This is kale, not sauerkraut, but same idea. I particularly like this nesting-jars method for keeping everthing submerged in brine.

Whatever method you devise, just be sure that all traces of cabbage are completely submerged in the brine. Little bits sticking up above the water line will quickly lead to a moldy situation like the photo below (and if you do end up with mold like this, scrape off the entire top layer of cabbage, but the rest underneath should be fine! The kraut below the mold in this picture turned out great.)  So if you need to mix up some more brine (which is just a fancy name for salt water), use the ratio of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water.

This is what happens if your cabbage doesn't stay submerged in brine.

Cover the jar with either a lid (leave it loose to prevent pressure buildup) or a towel to keep bugs out.* Leave it to ferment at room temperature until you like the taste of your kraut. Let your tongue be your guide to done-ness. Taste it every few days, and transfer into the fridge when it tastes the way you like it. I like mine pretty sour, so I usually leave it out for 1-2 weeks or more, depending on how warm it is in the kitchen.

Once in the fridge, your sauerkraut will keep for many months. Don’t throw out the sauerkraut juice; it’s full of beneficial Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria) and is said to be a very good digestive tonic. And if you like, add a little of the juice to your next batch of sauerkraut as a starter.

*If you see a white film (“kahm yeast”) develop on the surface of the brine, scrape off what you can each day until the kraut is done. Sometimes I don’t get any film. Sometimes I get a fair amount. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. The kahm yeast won’t harm anything, but if you keep getting a lot of it day after day, it can sometimes (not always) impart an off taste to the brine. If that happens, I will actually dump out the brine and replace with new brine. How salty to make the replacement brine? Good question. I’m still experimenting with this. When I did this I used 1 tsp salt to 1 cup water, but then my kraut was almost done fermenting and ready to go into the fridge. In the summer — or if your kraut still has a ways to go — I might increase the ratio to 1 Tbsp salt per 1 cup water. Use your judgment and go for it; fermentation is an imprecise art!

Here you can see the white film (kahm yeast) that sometimes develops on the brine's surface (between the blue bowl and glass bowl).

Are Bubbies Products Raw?

For a while now, I’ve wondered if Bubbies products are raw (ie., not heated or pasteurized). If you’re not familiar with Bubbies, they produce — among other things — excellent, old-fashioned, lacto-fermented pickles. In fact the only pickles Hubby will eat are Bubbies (or my own homemade Bubbies knock-offs).

So I sent an email to them, and if you’re a Bubbies fan too, you might be interested in reading their answer:

“Bubbies Bread & Butter Chips are vinegar brined and are a pasteurized food product, so there are no live cultures in that particular item.  Our Pure Kosher Dills, Dill Relish, Pickled Green Tomatoes and Sauerkraut are all naturally fermented and cured in salt water brine using a lacto-fermentation process. These products contain live cultures and the enzymes that form from a natural fermentation.

The Pure Kosher Dills, Dill Relish and Pickled Green Tomatoes are 100% raw; the Sauerkraut in the jars has been flash heated but not pasteurized.  This means that the Kraut is neither pasteurized nor raw.  Bubbies Bread & Butter Chips are vinegar brined and pasteurized and are shelf stable.

We were forced to begin heating our jarred Sauerkraut to calm the cultures inside because they were causing the kraut to continue to ferment too much in turn causing a buildup of gas that then results in brine leaking all over our distributor’s and retailer’s equipment and shelving.

When we heat our jarred Sauerkraut, it is quickly raised to about 135-140 degrees and then sealed in the jars.  The goal here is not to eliminate all the beneficial cultures, but rather to stifle them so they won’t cause the jars to leak.  When our Bread and Butter Chips are pasteurized the pickle chips and brine are heated to a boil and then allowed to simmer, to 212 degrees.  This process is designed at eliminating any potential cultures and is the style of preparation for that variety of pickle. While the heating we do for our Sauerkraut is only intended to calm the gas producing nature of the product with the specific goal in mind not to eliminate the beneficial cultures.  We do not claim that this product is raw for these reasons, but it still does have live bacteria.  From our testing, it is above 140 degrees that you really begin to eliminate the cultures present in our products on a massive scale.

It is important to note that our Sauerkraut is very crisp.  It is crunchier and able to maintain its crunch for far longer than other brands.  This is because there are still vegetable fibers left intact in the cabbage which are the complex carbohydrates that break down into the simpler food that the lacto bacillus cultures feed on during the fermentation process.

Hopefully this information will help in your continued enjoyment of our products and make it easier for you to remain a loyal customer.

Wishing you the very best in Food and Health!”

Free Shipping Today Only (June 21) at Tropical Traditions!

Tropical Traditions is having another one of their Free Shipping days today only, Monday, June 21st until Midnight EDT on ground shipment orders. This is a great opportunity to try out some of the Tropical Traditions products if you’ve been meaning to. As I’ve said before, they’re one of my favorite companies — I love their products! (They’re not paying me to say that.)

If you want to take advantage of this deal (though they do have free shipping days every now and then), enter coupon code 21610 during checkout.

Free shipping will save about $10 to $15 off your order, or more, depending on what you order.

Click here to read about some of my favorite products that they sell.

Also, if you buy anything and you’re a new customer, you can get this Virgin Coconut Oil book for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. (screen shot below)

Baby Robin Photo Update – 2 Weeks Old

(If you missed the photos of the babies in the nest, click here.)

Can you believe these are the same babies from last week?? They are! It’s astonishing to me how quickly they grew up, and I was sad to have missed that whole week. Just two weeks after hatching, the baby robins have fledged! I had no idea it would be that quick, but evidently sometime Wednesday afternoon, they just got up and flew out of their nest. I took these photos on Thursday. The babies were scattered around the neighbor’s yard — still hanging close — and are still being fed by their very busy parents. As if four hungry babies in a nest isn’t tiring enough, now they’re in the bushes, on tree branches, on the fence…mouths still propped open and waiting for bugs. To locate their babies, the parents perch on a branch and call out, bug in mouth, and the babies respond by calling back. They call back and forth until the parent flies down and delivers a bug into baby’s mouth.

Enjoy! Click each for a larger image.

Classic Caesar Salad Dressing

Since we’re on the topic of salads, and it’s peak season for garden lettuce, I wanted to share a yummy Caesar dressing recipe with you. I love Caesar salads. In fact just today I plowed through an entire head of my garden Romaine just by adding this Caesar dressing and eating taco-style. OH. YUM.

A recipe for homemade Caesar dressing that actually tastes right has eluded me for years, and I would buy bottled Caesar as a very occasional treat. No more. I have found my recipe. I’ve adapted it from the original recipe in Alice Waters’s book, The Art of Simple Food. I can’t get enough of this dressing, and to me it tastes just like a true Caesar should.

In my recipe, I’ve left the raw egg yolk out. Not that I’m opposed to adding good quality raw eggs to food, but I find that the dressing didn’t need it, and more importantly, I’ve found that salad dressing with raw egg doesn’t store very well — it just doesn’t taste that great much past the day it was made. I rarely finish a batch of salad dressing in one sitting, so it’s important to me that the dressing will store well and still taste good.

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Caesar Salad Dressing

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (definitely use fresh lemon juice here, because bottled just won’t taste right in this application)

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I use two medium-small cloves so it won’t overpower)

1 – 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste or finely chopped anchovy fillets (2-3 fillets) (anchovy adds great depth of flavor to your dressing without making it taste fishy)

freshly ground pepper, generous amount

salt to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp parmesan cheese

[1 raw egg yolk] – Optional.

Combine red wine vinegar, lemon juice, chopped garlic, anchovy paste, and a generous amount of freshly-ground pepper. Whisk together or just shake vigorously in a jar with a lid (my preferred method).

Then add the olive oil and parmesan cheese and shake or whisk again to combine. Taste for salt and add as needed.

If you’re using the raw egg yolk, mix it in right before serving.

Serve the salad with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and croutons if you want to really do it right!

Store any extra dressing in the fridge.

« Older posts

© 2024 The Herbangardener

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑